In a follow up to my article on drafting best player available that will impact the team, or as one blogger posted more eloquently, “best value available”, I wanted to take a look at what would impact the Packers most significantly this season. Most would agree that the defense needs improvement. There are three players that I will discuss that I think can improve the defense and push the Pack D into the top 10. They’ve gone from 32nd in 2011 to 11th in 2012. That’s a pretty decent improvement but weaknesses were exposed during the post season by better teams. So, let’s look at three positions in order of potential impact that I believe could make the difference this year. The player evaluations I read are from our friends over at NFL.com
According to mock drafts that I have observed, there is only 1 Outside Linebacker that I have seen that might get even close to dropping to within reach of the Pack and that’s:
Jarvis Jones - 6’2” and 245lbs. The pluses listed are that he has good closing speed, short area quickness, strong armed tackler against the run and effective at rushing the passer. Negatives seem to be that he needs some work on disengaging from blocks and needs to learn more than his spin move. The most concerning is his spinal stenosis condition which, as you all know, spelled the end for promising young WR Terrence Murphy years ago. All in all, if Jones drops to the Pack, I would say that it’s a no brainer to pick him and pit him against Nick Perry to provide some competition and in rotation. I could also see Perry being used on early downs and Jones being used on passing downs. A big plus that was listed for Jones that I could see making TT salivate is that he can swing Inside and fill in if needed or possibly as a surprise inside rusher in Capers’ defense. I could definitely see Jones and Matthews causing nightmares for opposing teams’ OLs. Imagine Jarvis Jones being coached by Kevin Greene!
There are 3 DTs that appeared to be picked in the mocks around #26. Jesse Williams – 6’3” 323lbs., Sylvester Williams – 6’3” 313lbs., and Kawann Short – 6’3” 299lbs.
Jesse Williams - Positives – quick and powerful. Pops off blocks. Negatives – Not athletic enough, not quick enough for pass rush, and lacks hand and foot quickness and plays too high to prevent himself from ending up on the ground and finish the play. All in all, a strong and tough DT would be a great fit in Dom Capers’ defense because the Nose Tackle is asked, primarily, to eat up blocks for the Linebackers. I am not very concerned about his ability to rush the passer because if he can bull rush the OLs into the backfield for the LBs or if he can at least force double blocks, he could be the difference to allow the rest of the front 7 to get into the backfield.
Sylvester Williams – Positives – tough to move, good at finding the ball, good tackler, good at getting past blockers, good against the run and shows good effort for a player his size. Negatives – doesn’t have closing speed to get sacks, needs to learn more than a swim move, can’t shed blocks when tired and over-pursues too much. I think this would also be a great pick for Capers’ defense. Again, the intent is to eat up blocks. If he can provide pass rush it is a bonus. Sylvester Williams has played well against the run and takes up extra blockers well to provide an opening for the LBs or DEs. Again, I would be happy with this pick.
Kawann Short – He has long arms and strong hands so he plays the run well when he finds the ball, strong upper body and good coordination against blockers and very good at feeling the play-action and dropping into coverage. Negatives – gets fooled too often, has trouble finding the ball, and the biggest concern – effort is questionable. If this player drops to the Pack, I would be completely okay with passing on him. While I believe with any of these players that a lot of their weaknesses can be coached out of them, I also believe that even if a player were the best at his position, we have seen too many times that a guy with a reputation for being lazy actually turns out to be lazy. I know this was the rep for Worthy, but for now he seems to be defying that reputation.
I know it may seem strange to some to say that a Running Back could make an impact on the defense, but hear me out. There were too many games last season where the offense couldn’t keep a drive going when all they needed was that running back to give them an extra 3 to 4 yards and keep the opposing team’s defense on the field while keeping our defense on the sidelines. I believe that the poor run defense was at least in part a function of being tired from being on the field most of the game. So, the one Running Back that seems to be tied to the Pack most frequently in the mocks is:
Eddie Lacy – 5’11” 231lbs. – Positives – Powerful, strong lower body, workhorse, patient, quick on his feet, finishes runs, falls forward, decent hands out of the backfield. Negatives – Sometimes misses openings due to poor decisions and inconsistent as a blocker. Lacy would be an ideal back in the Packers offense. He would provide that few yards we need to keep drives going. He could be the guy to give McCarthy the confidence to actually use the run more. And I believe that he could be coached to make better decisions and become a better blocker.
So, from the players that I see would make the biggest impact on the team, I would be extremely happy with Jarvis Jones or Eddie Lacy, but I wouldn’t be disappointed with Jesse Williams or Sylvester Williams. I believe any one of those players could make a significant impact on the Defense for the upcoming season.